Flappy Bird and Splashy Fish: Researching the Mobile Gaming Industry

In February, 2014, Dong Ngoyen removed his hugely successful mobile app, Flappy Bird, from the Internet claiming that he was concerned that the game was too addictive (Flappy Bird’s Demise: 10 Things to Know About the Game’s Rise, Fall).

Whatever Ngoyen’s motives, the removal of Flappy Bird caused hundreds of copycat games with names such as Flappy Bat, Splashy Fish, and Flappy Miley to spring up.  Apparently, making a mobile gaming app is fairly easy. Researching the industry is not very difficult, either.

The mobile gaming industry develops and publishes gaming apps for smartphones and mobile devices. Apps are typically sold in a special “app store” that can be accessed through the device. As a new and very specific industry, the Mobile Gaming Industry doesn’t have its own NAICS code or even standardized natural language indexing.

Mobile game(s), mobile gaming, mobile apps, smartphone gaming, and the more general digital games, are terms used by various sources. Finding stories about individual games when you know the name is no problem. For example, search Dow Jones Factiva for flappy bird in the lead paragraph (lp=flappy bird) to retrieve thousands of published items. Searching standard sources for industry information will often retrieve a general report on mobile apps that will have a subsection dealing with gaming.

BCC Research

BCC Mobile AppsThe BCC Research, 138-page report, Mobile Technologies Global Markets (Sept 2013), provides a comprehensive look at the mobile app industry. The report segments the market by the most popular operating systems, and provides for each the total market revenue, the number of applications and average revenue per application.

BCC estimates the size of the industry to be 8.6 billion dollars in 2013 with growth to 16.3 billion in 2018. It further estimates that “games” bring in 70% of the industry’s total revenue.

IBIS World Industry Reports

The IBIS report Smartphone app developers in the U.S. (January 2014) provides an industry overview with a more narrow focus than BCC. IBIS estimates the industry to be a 9.7 billion dollar market with 195,000 businesses. Although it isn’t made clear, it appears that the figures are for the world, not just the U.S. More than 50% of the industry’s income is derived from mobile games (but compare BCC above) and no company has more than 5% of the market. Some of the major companies include King Digital Entertainment, Kabam and Zynga. King Digital Entertainment, the developer of the game “Candy Crush” is notorious in the U.S. for attempting to copyright the word “candy”. In March 2014, King Digital went public.

Mintel Oxygen

App Annie Flappy birdThe report Mobile Gaming (October 2013) focuses on the demographics of mobile gaming in the U.S. Here you will find details regarding the who/what /when/where of gaming – the demographics of the players, what type of games they play, when the games are played, and the platforms on which they are played. The report provides little data concerning the finances of the companies in the industry. Mintel does provide some useful links to industry sources. Especially noteworthy is the site App Annie Market Index, which lists top publishers by monthly game downloads.

Gartner, eMarketer, IDC and Forrester are some additional sources that will supply information on the mobile gaming industry. See the Lippincott Library Research Guide, Digital Technology and Telecommunications, for additional sources.

One thought on “Flappy Bird and Splashy Fish: Researching the Mobile Gaming Industry

  1. Pingback: Living the Dream: Researching the Fantasy Sports Services Industry | Datapoints: A blog from the Lippincott Library of the Wharton School of Business

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